It’s been a very busy week. Work is busy anyway, Jim will be traveling quite a lot for a Client and we need to make sure he has everything he may need for those trips. We also have a lot of Clients that need little things, things that only Jim can answer and take just a few minutes, 5 or 6 such requests can really add up to a lot of time that is taken away from preparations.

Then we had a train crash that closed my Metro station which just a small inconvenience for my commute, Jim picked me up at a different station and we worked a few extra hours each day this week.

Jim had a court thing, not talking about that here yet… I have been subpoenaed and have to give a deposition for this on Tuesday. I’ve been praying a lot.

My friend Brian K came to visit from Milwaukee and I spent one evening hanging out with him and had intended to hang with him on Wednesday and go to the meeting but it didn’t happen, we worked late and I had expected to. He and I are planning to meet up on Saturday I believe and that will be fine.

Gary’s job is winding down and he’ll soon be traveling more again. This was a very long job for him and now he’ll hopefully get a bunch of short jobs which tend to make him happy.

Mouser had not been to happy with me working so much, but will be happy for a while with Jim traveling for the office a bunch it will allow me to spend more time with her… she’s very needy.

WIsconsin Trip – Summer 2009 – part 2 (Coulee Region)

First a little background information. Coulee “in Wisconsin, they are the product of nearly a half million years of erosion, unmodified by glaciation. The loose rocks at the base of the wall form what are called scree slopes. These are formed when chunks of the canyon wall give way in a rockslide. Left alone, the valleys are often woodland, with the ridgetops transitioning into tallgrass prairie when not turned into pasture or used for row crops.” I always think of coulee’s like big spacious valleys, I’m not sure if that’s accurate, but when I think of “coulees” in WI I think of valleys of lush green forests and rolling hills.

I awoke relatively early on Sunday morning and after saying my farewells to the Isenberger’s I headed off for Galesville.

A little more information – My Pa, who died in November loved to go to auctions. He would go to auctions and buy anything that struck his fancy – lawn mowers, snow blowers, tables, street lamps, old books, clothes, motors… relatively ANYTHING. And he managed to fill the old Beaver Builder’s building in Galesville (over 300′ long with 4 floors) with those items he purchased. This is what my Pa did after he retired, much to the occasional frustration and frequent concern for finances that he caused my Ma. It’s hard to put into words what the Shop looks like inside, Pa had no recognizable form of organization we might have a stack of riding mower decks in this corner, at the far side of the building and behind a row of snow blowers. The vast expanse of the building have allowed many bats and stray cats to call it home and therefore there are various forms of feces in different parts. It was rare that Pa would cover items with a tarp or put them in a protected place, most if not all of the items in the shop are covered with a thin layer of black dust that gets transferred to your face, hands and clothes with ease.

I arrived in Galesville a little after 10, having just missed my Ma who was off to a 50th wedding anniversary party for old friends. I headed off immediately to the Shop to go to work. Rhonda, her husband Greg and my nephew Michael were already there hard and work. Rhonda put me to work sorting lawnmower bags which is frustrating. We assume that Pa must have bought a lot of old Toro bags at an auction as we have more than twice as many Toro bags as we do Toro mowers. Rhonda brought a movie (Paul Blart, Mall Cop) over that evening and we enjoyed that with Rhonda and Greg.

Monday morning Ma and I went to breakfast at the Garden of Eatin’ a local cafe (Galesville is called the Garden of Eden by some so the restaurant’s name fits) before I headed off to the shop for day two. Rain was falling pretty hard most of the day so we were confined to the inside of the shop which hindered our progress some and gets a person depressed pretty quickly. The local paper stopped by to ask questions and take pictures and we called it a day a little early. Rhonda brought over a movie (Bride Wars) and we were all likely in bed before 10 p.m.

Tuesday we all met at the Garden of Eatin’ for breakfast, the sun was out and it was threatening to be a nice day. Rhonda and I set our sites on moving lawnmower decks from the inside of the building to the outside – let me tell you those things are heavy and I am very grateful for the two wheelers that were on hand to cart them long distances and up the hill. I was put to the task of sorting out and lining up a pile of rear ends that belong to various tractors and riders.

I am so very grateful that Rhonda is there in Galesville. She has done an amazing amount of work getting everything ready for the auction. When I go into the building I am still overwhelmed at the enormity of it all and how much has yet to be done. I think there are over 100 push mowers, 100 riders, 100 snow blowers, 100 tillers on the first auction block (in addition to the various 1000s of spare parts, the 1949 1/4 ton truck, the fish finned car and god only knows what else. Rhonda (with little help from others) had put this all together for the first auction this Saturday which has helped Ma immensely.

Thank God for wonderful sisters! I’ll be heading back to the Coulee region in late July just in time for the 2nd auction.

WIsconsin Trip – Summer 2009 – part 1 (Chippewa Valley)

I awoke in DC early Thursday morning and despite the clear skies that followed the severe thunderstorms that night, my flight was canceled. I didn’t know that until I reached the airport – having failed to check my flight status before heading out the door that morning. Delta/NWA booked me on a relatively similar flight and I arrived in La Crosse, WI only an hour or so later than I had planned. Flying into La Crosse, I knew why they call our land God’s country – the land is covered in life – forests of trees, streaming rivers and serenity… just beautiful.

Rhonda and Ma came to pick me up at the airport and we went to Rocky Roccoco’s for Lunch. If you didn’t know, Rocky’s is Chicago Style pizza and one of the treats that I look forward to when I go home. It’s a wonderful feeling to come home and have a nice lunch with your Ma and your sister. I dropped Ma and Rhonda off in Galesville and took Ma’s car about 100 miles north to Eau Claire, WI.

I arrived at Pat and Brenda’s about 1:30 or so and found Brenda, Samantha (the graduating one) and Anna (Sam’s friend) hard at work in preparation for the party Saturday. I was greeted with hugs and dog kisses (from the dog Maui) and tried to help as I was directed to.

Thursday night a friend (Stephanie) was the speaker at the Eau Claire Pacific Group of Alcoholics Anonymous and I was in attendance. Stephanie did a great job sharing her experience, strength and hope and afterward we all all headed to Perkins for a very late meal, I’d say there were about 20 folks in attendance it was good fellowship.

Friday during the day Pat and I ran errands for his wife and generally helped to prepare the house for all the guests. That evening was the graduation ceremony. We (Pat, Brenda, Stephanie and Anna) were all in attendance for what seemed to be the longest graduation commencement ceremony – ever… The Assistant Principal spoke, they inducted people from the classes of 1945, 55 and 62 into some special recognition group, students talked, principals talked, songs were sung… and finally (2 hours later) they started to hand out diplomas to the 300+ students… when my niece Sam received hers we pleasantly left the building.

Saturday morning I had breakfast with my biological sisters daughters (or my nieces) Samantha and Tabatha at Perkins. I hadn’t seen either of these girls (women?) since my mother died about 5 years ago. They have both grown up so much and are so very different from the little girls that I used to spin in circles and make smell my socks in my memory. We had a nice breakfast filled with moments of awkward silences and shy moments. I then drove Tabatha home all the way to Fall Creek before heading back to Chippewa Falls for the party.

Saturday’s party was preceded by temperatures that were in the low 50s and a rain that fell all day long. The party’s spirit threatened to abandon us before the actual festivities… nevertheless the family and friends arrived in the early afternoon and stayed into the evening. Family and friends tend to do that for people they love.

These types of events are always a double edged sword for me, I do get to see and spend great quality time with people that mean the world to me, and I get a chance to see folks that I don’t see very often – there are plenty of people that I don’t know that are there also and these events do seem to be an excuse for people to hang around and whine about life… sigh.

I’ve known Samantha since she was about 4 years old and I’ve been called “Uncle Jamez” almost since day 1… for a little while she and her brother called me “James and the Giant Peach” and I am grateful that that finally lost interest with them. Samantha has grown into a fine young woman and I have been amazed at her accomplishments, triumphs and journeys into adulthood. Right now I know she doesn’t know where she wants the future to lead her, but I hope when she chooses a path that that path leads her to a life as filled with loved ones as I’ve managed to assimilate.


I’ve been asked to speak at the Chippewa Valley Roundup this year. This is one of those crazy things that doesn’t seem like it can be real.

If my memory serves me well, I helped do the groundwork to get this roundup up and running all those years ago. Shortly before it came to be a reality is when I copped my resentment and left the group, but I was there at the beginning and I am fairly certain I attended the roundup.

So, in preparation for this event I’ve downloaded all the AA Speaker Podcast’s I could and will listen to as many as I can. I’m hoping all this listening will not only be good for my program, but also manage to help me be a better speaker. Fortunately, there have been some really good talks, a few that have made me a little weepy…

Anyway, this is gonna weigh heavily on my mind over the next month or so and I’ll do my best to deliver the message.